ICAC finds RMS-accredited heavy vehicle assessor corrupt

Friday 24 January 2014

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that a heavy vehicle competency assessor accredited by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) engaged in corrupt conduct by soliciting and receiving money from applicants in return for falsely certifying that they were competent to drive heavy vehicles.

In its report, Investigation into false certifications of heavy vehicle competency-based assessments by a Roads and Maritime Services-accredited assessor, released today, the Commission finds that between June 2012 and April 2013, Christopher Binos exercised his public official functions as an RMS-accredited heavy vehicle competency assessor to make false entries in applicants' learner's log books to show that he had assessed them as competent to drive heavy vehicles, in accordance with RMS requirements, so they could apply to the RMS for heavy vehicle driver licences.

The Commission also makes corrupt conduct findings against applicants Alexander Daubney, Mark McDonagh, Peter Friend-Ngui, Shane Florio and Jacqueline Riley for paying Mr Binos money as an inducement or reward for him exercising his public official functions as described above. The payments received by Mr Binos on each occasion from the five applicants varied, but were in the region of $1,500.

During the course of the Commission's investigation, Mr Binos identified at least 95 applicants for whom he believed he had, in return for payment, made false entries in their learner's log books to the effect that he had assessed them as competent to drive a heavy vehicle. Mr Binos' identification process was based on the registration number of the vehicle he recorded in his assessor log books as being used for assessment. Most of the registration numbers were obtained from sale advertisements on the internet.

The Commission decided it was not in the public interest to call all the persons who appeared to have received false competency assessment by Mr Binos to the public inquiry. This evidence, however, has been brought to the attention of the RMS so that it can take action to cancel all driver licences that were issued as a result of corruption. The RMS has advised the Commission that it has formed the view that the relevant class of heavy vehicle driver licence issued to these persons was done so in error and has issued a notice to them downgrading their heavy vehicle driver licence to the licence class held by them prior to their assessment by Mr Binos. Those people identified as likely to have been falsely certified by Mr Binos, who were not called to give evidence at the public inquiry, will be referred to the NSW Police Force to consider whether any criminal charges should be laid. Mr Binos was suspended from conducting heavy vehicle competency-based assessments (HVCBAs) in April 2013, and his driving instructor licence was cancelled in June 2013.

The ICAC's investigation identified a number of weaknesses in the administration of the HVCBA process. The process, however, has changed since the investigation, although the Commission recommends that a weakness it considers in the new system be addressed by the RMS requiring registered training organisations to implement in-cabin video cameras and GPS technology solutions to record and monitor HVCBA final competency assessments completed by assessors for the issue of heavy vehicle driver licences. The RMS should also implement systems, processes and business rules to own, collect, review and archive the recordings, including utilising the recordings to enhance the auditing of the HVCBA scheme.

The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Mr Binos, Mr Daubney, Mr McDonagh, Mr Florio, Mr Friend-Ngui and Ms Riley for specified offences. The ICAC's public inquiry, held as part of the investigation, was conducted over two days commencing on 16 October 2013. Commissioner the Hon David Ipp AO QC presided at the public inquiry, at which seven witnesses gave evidence.

Fact sheet

Investigation report

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 80